Answer: both — as Nick Cohen argues in a terrific column about the Ukip leader.
When considering Ukip, we should remember the advice of Lord Renwick, a Foreign Office mandarin and Labour peer. He told young diplomats from good families that their background made them suckers for “the Wykehamist fallacy”. When they went abroad, they were in danger of believing that foreign potentates merely struck blood-curdling poses for effect. For all the bombast, they would think that, underneath, these must be civilised men with an ironic sensibility who might have been educated at Winchester. “They haven’t,” said Renwick. “Actually, they’re a bunch of thugs.”
The same should be said of Ukip.
Yep. I’ve seen Farage in action in the flesh. Nick calls him “England’s greatest living hypocrite”, and that seems about right (though there is fierce competition for that title).
He courts popularity by warning that tens of millions from the dole queues of Europe are coming to take British jobs, while employing his German wife as his secretary. He denounces “the political class” for living like princes at the taxpayers’ expense while pocketing every taxpayer-funded allowance he can claim for himself, his wife and his colleagues.
He says he represents “ordinary people”. But he is a public school-educated former banker, whose policies will help him and his kind. He claims he is the voice of “common sense”, while allying with every variety of gay-hater, conspiracy crackpot, racist, chauvinist and pillock. The only sense he and his followers have in common is a fear of anyone who is not like them.
So the question is: why have Britain’s famously aggressive mass media not torn this phoney to shreds? Could it be that he voices many of their proprietors’ (and editors’) own views?